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Rahul Gandhi promises to remove 50 pc reservation cap: Gandhi scion’s pipe dream bypasses SC order even as he ceaselessly accuses BJP of altering constitution

It is worth noting that something as substantial as extending the reservation quota and bypassing the Supreme Court verdict that mandates a reservation quota at 50 per cent would require a thumping majority in both houses of the parliament. But as per conservative estimates, the INDI alliance is struggling electorally almost across the length and breadth of the country.

Even as political pundits and psephologists peg Congress to win not more than 40-80 Lok Sabha seats in the ongoing general elections, senior party leader Rahul Gandhi has been making fanciful claims should his party form a government at the centre.

In a recent political rally, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi announced today that Congress will eliminate the Supreme Court-imposed 50% limit on caste-based reservations and expand quota benefits for Dalit, backwards, and tribal communities.

Speaking at a campaign rally in Ratlam, Madhya Pradesh, Gandhi emphasized that the election aims to protect the Constitution. “The BJP and RSS want to undermine and alter the Constitution, while the Congress and the INDIA bloc strive to safeguard it. This Constitution grants you rights over water, forests, and land, which Narendra Modi seeks to abolish for absolute control,” he declared, holding up a copy of the Constitution.

Gandhi criticized BJP leaders for their intentions to alter the Constitution if victorious. “They’ve promoted the ‘400 seats’ slogan, but they won’t even secure 150 seats. They aim to eliminate reservations. From this platform, I pledge to increase reservations beyond the 50% cap, providing necessary quotas for the poor, backward classes, Dalits, and Adivasis,” he stated.

His comments come during an intense campaign for the Lok Sabha elections, marked by heated debates on reservations between the NDA and the INDIA bloc.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP have accused the Congress of planning to manipulate reservations for backward classes to favour Muslims, an allegation the Congress denies. At a rally in Banaskantha, Gujarat, Modi challenged the Congress to pledge not to misuse reservations based on religion or alter the Constitution for such purposes.

It is worth noting that something as substantial as extending the reservation quota and bypassing the Supreme Court verdict that mandates a reservation quota at 50 per cent would require a thumping majority in both houses of the parliament. But as per conservative estimates, the INDI alliance is struggling electorally almost across the length and breadth of the country.

Even if one assumes that Congress and its allies somehow manage to form a government at the centre, the fact that they would alter the constitution to end the 50 per cent reservation cap could spark social churn and outrage that could easily spill into civil war and violence, a prospect which the Wayanad MP seems to have overlooked.

Nevertheless, the broadsides against the BJP and RSS over altering the constitution were ironic, given that it is Rahul Gandhi himself who is claiming to change the constitution-mandated 50 per cent quota for reservations. Moreover, Congress is fighting the Lok Sabha elections in an alliance under the banner I.N.D.I, which comprises several regional political parties, including the SP, RJD, DMK, and others. He has not revealed whether the decision to alter the reservation quota has the approval of his alliance partners.

However, it is incredibly hilarious on the part of Congress and Rahul Gandhi to make sweeping promises such as extending the reservations when they are content playing second and, at times, third fiddle to the regional parties. For instance, in Uttar Pradesh, the state with the highest Lok Sabha seats, Congress is fighting on a paltry 17 out of 80 seats. In Bihar too, Congress has been subordinated to the secondary position by Lalu Prasad Yadav’s RJD. The scene in Tamil Nadu, where DMK is in power, is no different. But the biggest challenge for the Congress party from an opposition party is in Bengal, where the seat-sharing formula didn’t materialise as the TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee announced going solo into the elections.

These internecine challenges, along with the Modi juggernaut, which conservative estimates peg would only cross 272—the number of seats required to form a government—but also better its previous tally should have chastened Rahul Gandhi a bit in terms of promises he has been dishing out over the imaginary formation of the government with an opportunistic alliance whose partners have competing interests and differing priorities.

Yet, the Gandhi scion has been making a slew of promises in his election rallies, never bothering to account for the reality staring him in his face and explaining how his promise of altering the constitution is different from what he accuses PM Modi and the BJP of doing if they come to power for the third time.

Perhaps Gandhi realised that his alliance was not coming to power this year, so he embraced a scorched-earth policy, a total disregard for the country’s institutions, constitution, and, more importantly, people, in the forlorn hope of causing a substantial dent in the BJP’s margins of victory in the elections.

This is why Gandhi kept trotting out dangerous tropes, something he had been doing for a while now he and his party have always playing the catching-up game with the Modi government. At the Ratlam rally, Gandhi demonised the media by claiming they neglected atrocities against Adivasis. “Your children are raped, your land is seized, but the media remains silent because there are no Adivasis in media companies,” said Gandhi, which is another brazen attempt to pass the buck on the media to cover up the inadequacies of his party and leaders.

He also pointed out that the country’s governance is dominated by a small group of bureaucrats, with minimal representation from Adivasis, backward classes, and Dalits. “We aim to change this imbalance through a caste Census and an economic survey,” he said. Amit Shah had already countered this lie in 2023 when he revealed that the current batch of bureaucrats was from 1992 or earlier when BJP was not in power and the Congress governments had reserved categories only for SC and ST, and not OBC.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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Amit Kelkar
Amit Kelkar
a Pune based IT professional with keen interest in politics

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